10 and "attitude" - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 7 Old 10-13-2011, 06:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm not sure if this is entirely a gifted kid thing, but it happens in school and not so much at home (or it isn't problematic at home)... so here goes.

 

My kid attends a public montessori school and is in 5th grade. He is 10 years-old.  Today when I was picking him up the teacher asked me to come in tomorrow to discuss his "attitude."

 

So I asked him if he knew what she was talking about, and he mentioned getting into an argument with a girl at recess.  Basically, she called him stupid, and he called her stupid back. She went and told the teacher, and he got in trouble (a lecture about being rude, etc.) *but* he never mentioned that she called him a name, etc.

 

Not that it excuses his behavior, but it puts it into perspective, yk?

 

Last year a lot of this went on... the girls are kind of "clicky" and certain kids in particular are *very* bossy and mean to the boys, but it is all under the radar.  Some of the girls are more sophisticated then the boys and do stuff like this... call a name, etc. by does the same thing, and then the girl tattles, and the boy gets in trouble. 

 

And I asked him why he didn't mention it, and he just said it doesn't matter--they guys always get in trouble, no matter what. 

 

So--he is 10, and does have attitude sometimes.  He can be argumentative, sarcastic, negative.  Pre-teen stuff.  But I just ask him to adjust his attitude, and he usually does.  Its like he doesn't realize he is acting rude, impolite, etc. 

 

Edit to add, I don't know if this is what the teacher is going to talk to me about, or something else.  I hate these meetings because I don't know what I am walking into. ... but that is all my son could share...

Any advice?  Does anyone know if attitude is a bigger issue with gifted kids?

 

 

thanks!  <3


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#2 of 7 Old 10-13-2011, 07:53 PM
 
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It's really impossible to offer specific input being several times removed from the incidents -- especially when we don't even know that the meeting is about those things. I haven't had a lot of "attitude" from my kids, but we homeschooled through the middle school years and little bits of sarcasm happened in a family context where they could be quickly dealt with. We were only dealing with family culture, not peer culture. I admit we like sarcasm in this family, and I occasionally had to remind the kids not to use sarcasm in their interpersonal relationships. "Not at people -- only at ideas." But I think I had a much easier job, being right there on the ground with my kids when flashpoints erupted.

 

If the meeting turns out to be about interpersonal stuff with bossy, cliquey girls I would be very careful not to sound like you're trying to deflect blame. It's natural to want to do so, and a lot of the blame may very well legitimately belong elsewhere, but you will not likely do your son or yourself any favors to say so. Instead I would say something diplomatic like "It's hard to really know what the real trigger is for incidents like that, but it seems ds needs to work harder at not allowing himself to be provoked and not escalating things with his behaviour." You can talk about him having a "strong sense of injustice" (something gifted kids often have) ... and how it can be hard for him to let things go when he perceives that someone (himself or another) has been wronged. You don't need to accept that he is to blame in order to present yourself as open to collaborative problem-solving and supporting the teacher in whatever she has in mind. For instance if you said "Maybe we need to talk to him more about 'taking the high road' and rising above whatever he feels provoked by," that would be accepting that he has room to grow, while making the point that he may not be the instigator. 

 

If the "attitude" is of a more general type, don't let yourself be shocked or defensive. Things like smartass comments and eye-rolling do not mean you've got some sort of sociopath on your hands. Kids this age are not necessarily aware of the way their body language and quips can project negativity onto others, including teachers. They may not mean to project a negative attitude, but they may not realize they have have the power to affect others' experience, and they are beyond an age where such things are easily excused as due to immaturity and impulsivity. Your ds may just need some specific teaching about the kinds of behaviours that are projecting a don't-care negative attitude. I have a young violin student who is a very bright 10-year-old who has needed a lot of specific teaching of this sort. I really felt like he was trying to push my buttons but once I started working with him, addressing his behaviours specifically, it became clear that he had no idea the attitude he was projecting and was horrified that people would think he didn't like what he was doing, didn't like them, thought they were wasting his time, etc.. The discussions we've had have paid big dividends.

 

Good luck!

 

Miranda


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#3 of 7 Old 10-13-2011, 08:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post


 

If the "attitude" is of a more general type, don't let yourself be shocked or defensive. Things like smartass comments and eye-rolling do not mean you've got some sort of sociopath on your hands. Kids this age are not necessarily aware of the way their body language and quips can project negativity onto others, including teachers. They may not mean to project a negative attitude, but they may not realize they have have the power to affect others' experience, and they are beyond an age where such things are easily excused as due to immaturity and impulsivity. Your ds may just need some specific teaching about the kinds of behaviours that are projecting a don't-care negative attitude. I have a young violin student who is a very bright 10-year-old who has needed a lot of specific teaching of this sort. I really felt like he was trying to push my buttons but once I started working with him, addressing his behaviours specifically, it became clear that he had no idea the attitude he was projecting and was horrified that people would think he didn't like what he was doing, didn't like them, thought they were wasting his time, etc.. The discussions we've had have paid big dividends.

 

Good luck!

 

Miranda

 

Honestly, this is what I have observed at home.  It isn't really extreme attitude, but its like he doesn't realize it is rude.  When I address the specific behavior as you say, it seems to pass.  I don't think it is a "bad public school peer pressure thing" that you allude to because he actually has a mostly great group of peers.

 

He is a kid who is either extremely happy or everything is "the worst" and very dramatic in his expression of his feelings, etc. And that is often surprising to other people. 

 

Thank you for your reply.
 

 


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#4 of 7 Old 10-13-2011, 10:49 PM
 
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I have a 10-year-old boy Elementary girls learn quick that the administration is largely on their side. I've seen them push and push a boy with verbal taunts and humiliation (and yes, to a boy that age, having some girl tell all your friends your her boyfriend is humiliation.) Boys tend to just take it until they pop. If they say anything negative to a girl, the girls immediately go to the staff where they become the innocent victims and the boys as aggressors. Very often boys are treated as second class citizens by cliches of girls and they very often get away with it. Elementary can be pretty darn hostile towards boys.

 

As to the attitude, I'd want a better picture of what others are seeing. We don't have issues with DS and attitude but he seems to be forgetting his basic manners a lot lately and I feel like I have to remind him frequently. 


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#5 of 7 Old 10-14-2011, 06:37 AM
 
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I have two pre-teens at the moment, and work in the school system, and gifted or not, the girls often learn how to tease under the radar and the boys often name call out right.  Generally, the boys get in trouble, and it seems about half will respond in some way that rubs the teacher the wrong way.  This generalized problem is an age group thing.  The part I think that can be affected by giftedness (and actually, both my pre-teens are gifted, one 2E, one not) is the tendency to try to logically debate on an adult level.  If a child has the ability to really consider right and wrong in an incident and is articulate enough to really state their case, it's easy to fall into a situation of being inadvertently rude when really trying to put across a point.  I had to really spell out to both my older kids (I have one more, but he's not there, yet) exact guidelines as to who they could appropriately debate with, and when.  My DD, especially, will argue every angle, and then blow up if she's not hearing something logical back.  We actually practice these situations ahead of time if it looks like something will come up.  I second moominmama's approach about actually specifically pointing out body language, too.


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#6 of 7 Old 10-14-2011, 11:02 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carmel23 View Post

Last year a lot of this went on... the girls are kind of "clicky" and certain kids in particular are *very* bossy and mean to the boys, but it is all under the radar.  Some of the girls are more sophisticated then the boys and do stuff like this... call a name, etc. by does the same thing, and then the girl tattles, and the boy gets in trouble. 

 

And I asked him why he didn't mention it, and he just said it doesn't matter--they guys always get in trouble, no matter what. 

 

Could it be that his "attitude" is that he's realized the teacher thinks the girls are victims and that the boys are in the wrong, so he just doesn't bother to get caught up in the drama of it all, seeing it more clearly for what it is?

 

And that the teacher sees his lack of getting caught up in the drama as "attitude"?  (when really it's rather insightful and mature to not let our emotions get caught up in things we can't control)

 

Girls this age can be a tough crowd. In the k-12 school my kids go to, its the group that has the most trouble with bullying -- but it's all really subtle stuff. It can be quiet nasty actually. Luckily, the teachers see it for what it is, so tend to deal with it appropriately. It sounds like at your son's school, the teachers aren't seeing it for what it is.

 

A little attitude is age appropriate, gifted or not. Helping our kids learn to express themselves appropriately can take time and requires space to say what they are thinking and feeling,  and that they have appropriate control over their lives. They are humans, not sheep. They are going to have feelings about what is going on around them and how it effects them. Learning to express that without being a PITA is difficult for most humans.


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#7 of 7 Old 10-14-2011, 11:22 AM - Thread Starter
 
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So this is a new teacher (and a wonderful teacher!) it really wasn't about the clickiness or the girl vs. boy stuff.  She seems to be aware of that and not "taking sides" or being played (thank goodness!).  To be fair to both the boys and girls... yk? 

 

It was basically about him kind of being "class clown-ish" during circle/ or group lessons.  Basically, a lot of behavior that is overexcitable/anxiety related.  W had a really good conversation and I am so glad that the teacher reached out now instead of waiting. 

 

He does have an enlarged sense of justice on the playground, but the teacher seemed to enjoy that (or not be bothered by it). 

 

So if anyone has any recommendations on talked to their gifted kid about reigning in the psychic energy, please share! 

 

Thanks for everyone's input. 


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